Tag Archives: The Present

The Captain and I (part 4 of 4)

20 Feb

(Part One)

(Part Two)

(Part Three)

Eventually I started crawling up. Partially due to poverty, partially due to a glimmer of understanding, I stopped drinking every night. The awful roommate I was living with at the time left. My friend came back from Iraq, and instead of drinking because it was a very incremental form of suicide, I was drinking to celebrate again. Slowly my friends came back, and with each new addition, there was more to celebrate. Legitimate celebrations. We had all gone through some extremely painful and deep shit, and alcohol makes it easy to distract yourself.

This summer I partied a lot. All of us made up for lost time, throwing parties without pretense: we wanted to party and that was all the excuse we needed. Our revels were good natured: we are all good natured people and the people we invited were good natured. For the first time in my life I stopped caring. It was more than a fatalist’s nihilism (though I will admit that it cropped up time to time). I just simply embraced that fact that happiness, that good feelings, don’t have to have a reason. I didn’t need some cosmic justification for smiling. I had survived the worst year of my life, and that was enough for me.

That realization, that it was alright to be happy, and that I didn’t have to explain it to anyone, gave me the strength to get back in school. I got back into school, and I kicked its ass. Was I a perfect student? God no. I didn’t emerge from rock-bottom re-forged as a muggle Hermoine; but I learned what I needed to learn and got good grades. Things were going great. And I was putting back a handle of rum a week.

Wait. What?

That’s a lot of alcohol. That’s an obscene amount of alcohol. That is a 12-steps amount of alcohol. Which brings us to the statement we’ve both been thinking through this: Mike, you sound an AWFUL lot like an alcoholic. Yes reader. Yes I do.

I have thought about this a lot. That’s because alcoholism is a huge deal, and one that runs in my family. On one hand, the evidence is pretty damning: I can’t think of a single time I’ve gone two weeks without any alcohol since I turned 21. Also, people call me an alcoholic, and while I’m not one to make important policy decisions based solely on public opinion that’s kind of a thing. On the other hand, I don’t feel bad or anything when I don’t drink. A week and a half without a drink and I feel literally no compulsion to drink, I don’t feel sick, I don’t feel much of anything. That’s not denial either; if I was an alcoholic I would damn well want to know so I could get help.

Ultimately, it’s something of a moot point, because I’m just not drinking as much anymore. Yes I get drunk when I party, and no, I don’t feel a need to apologize for that. But overall, I’m drinking less. It’s because inevitably, if I don’t slow down, I will become an alcoholic. It’s because alcohol is poison and years of poisoning is a bad idea. But mostly it’s because there are 120 calories in a 2.5 oz shot of rum and I’m tired of being fat.

Yes, that’s right, my wake-up call was Googling the calories in rum. For a bit over a year, rum and coke has been my drink of choice. Given that I put what can charitably called a “nearly undrinkable” amount of rum in drinks, each of my rum and cokes is like 400 calories. Now multiply that by the five or six of those I’ll put back at a party, and we’re looking at a normal human being’s daily allotment of calories in a four hour period.

So I am drinking less because I want to lose weight. And because I’m tired of being called an alcoholic. Alcohol has been (indirectly) responsible for some of the most painful and terrible moments in my life. Alcohol was also there through each step of my return to life. I do not have any sort of affection or sentimentality towards alcohol; I drink when I celebrate because it feels good and being sober when everyone else is drunk sucks.

So yes I drink to celebrate. But I don’t celebrate to drink.